Investing

Create Long-Term Investment Plan

create a long-term investment planAs sure as summers will be hot here in Arizona, the stock market will serve up a scare every six months or so. The recent global stock market slump illustrates that. Times like this are why we ask questions such as, “Why am I investing?” It’s a reminder that we need an up-to-date, written, long-term investment plan which links up with the answer. A solid plan helps us resist the urge to react to inevitable short-term moves.

Trade with China has been highlighted as a “reason” for volatility. A big concern is that China will devalue its currency, the yuan. That would reduce the price in dollars for Chinese exports to the United States, offsetting the cost of proposed tariffs. However, China says it will not continue to devalue its currency, Forbes.com reports. Pressures on China from international currency markets to avoid doing so are enormous. Respected, non-partisan economist Gary Shilling notes, if there is a trade war with China, the United States will win.

“The buyer – America – inherently has the upper hand over the seller – China,” he says.

Another dark cloud has been the drumbeat of impending recession. We hear a chorus of

“The inverted yield curve!”

A normal yield curve is sloped up: short-term bonds, lower yields (interest rate); longer-term bonds, higher yields. As of today, that has flipped. The rate on the 2-year Treasury bond is a little higher than that of the 10-year bond. That has sometimes preceded a recession; however, the bond market eventually corrects itself. The longer-term bond “looks too expensive,” the price falls, and the yield increases. The Federal Reserve, with direct influence over short-term interest rates, has pledged to react swiftly by cutting rates if needed.

Current economic statistics speak for themselves: Retail sales and consumer confidence have surged well above economists’ expectations, “more than enough to keep the economy growing,” according to Marketwatch.com. Employment numbers are the best they have ever been in some cases, and in more than 50 years in other cases.

If you’re feeling the heat, take a moment to review your investment plan. Then pour yourself an icy sweet tea and stay cool as the summer and the markets boil.

 

By |2019-08-19T09:42:52-07:00August 19th, 2019|Current Affairs, Investing|

Understand Why Before Deciding How

understand why before deciding howI recently sat down with a new client who needed help understanding her financial accounts. It takes two-way communication and objectivity to determine what investment strategy best serves a client’s needs. Essentially, you must understand why before deciding how. Unfortunately, this woman’s previous advisor did not take such actions.

Several years ago this person recommended (as a sales agent) she move her IRA and brokerage accounts into equity-indexed annuities. That locked up most of her investable assets for 10 years into an insurance product that levies a fee to access her money.

As we chatted, I learned she wanted to travel and take classes in her retirement. Annuities hindered her ability to do that right away. Once I took the time to understand her goals, we knew this product was not the best choice.

Situations like this are all too common and have created a stigma for annuities. Yet, some annuity products may be appropriate investments in certain circumstances. One example is a client who had not had a fixed paycheck during his career as a realtor. When he retired, we purchased an annuity for him to complement his Social Security benefits. The steady annuity income was a welcome change from the unpredictable income stream he’d had while working and gave him peace of mind in retirement.

These examples highlight the importance of knowing what you need and want before making any decisions about your portfolio. It’s critical to explore all the reasons why you are investing before deciding how to invest and what products will be most effective in meeting your goals.

To learn more about our financial planning process and investing strategies, click here.

By |2019-08-14T13:59:44-07:00July 29th, 2019|Insurance, Investing|

Bitcoin Products and Pyramid Schemes

Pyramid schemes share one overriding characteristic, according to Debra Valentine, former general counsel of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): They promise consumers or investors large profits based primarily on recruiting others to join their program, not based on profits from any real investment or real sale of goods to the public. Bitcoin products and pyramid scheme share this description, according to Jonathan Harris. He offers a cautionary view in a recent opinion piece for the CFA Institute.

“Bitcoin is too inefficient to be a currency. Certainly, no government has any plans to use it as one,” he wrote. Harris is a chartered financial analyst and vice president, manager of nonretail credit analytics for TD-Bank. “Thus, the sole way most promoters will realize value from their bitcoin holdings is through new entrants into the market.”

Some proponents of bitcoin equate it to investing in gold. This may be a reasonable analogy. Still, even in the best case scenario, both bitcoin and gold share the characteristics of being volatile investments with poor long-term returns. While gold has other uses (e.g. jewelry or art), Harris points out that bitcoin does not. Furthermore, after the supply of new bitcoin buyers is exhausted, final investors will find themselves with assets that decline in value as early investors sell off.

“If it looks like a pyramid scheme and sounds like a pyramid scheme, we should treat it like a pyramid scheme until proven otherwise,” Harris stresses.

Creating Diversified and Balanced Portfolios

At Perspective, our time-tested investment strategy focuses on building a well-diversified portfolio of stocks and other securities. The Perspective Investment Committee meets quarterly to review and fine-tune the list of funds our advisors utilize to build balanced client portfolios. It is part of the firm’s strategic process. Funds are selected based on several criteria. Considerations include factors such as cost and the fund manager’s tenure. It also includes overall performance and risk vs. return (both of which we compare to peer funds and other benchmarks).

For Harris’ full article on the CFA Institute website, click here.

By |2019-08-14T13:59:47-07:00January 7th, 2019|Current Affairs, Investing|

Maintaining Perspective

Patrick Eng addresses maintaining perspective.When the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed above 22,000 in August 2017 (an all-time high) I wrote an article titled “Managing Expectations.” In early October 2018, the Dow reached a record-breaking 26,800 points. In the four weeks that followed, it dropped by 2,000 points. By mid-November, the it was back near 26,000. As I write today, and the Dow is hovering at roughly 25,000, the new mantra is “maintaining perspective.”

After seeing these numbers, I felt compelled to share once again the points from my summer 2017 article. As we traverse the landscape of volatile financial markets – experiencing both the euphoric highs and the inevitable declines – it’s important to remember the following:

  • Stay diversified; even if it doesn’t feel right, history shows this strategy works.
  • Avoid jumping in and out of the market; it is virtually impossible to time market movement.
  • Invest regularly, in both good times and in bad times; the potential to buy investments at discount prices can only happen if you are involved when things look the bleakest.
  • Market corrections, no matter how painful, are a natural part of the economic cycle.

These long-term fundamental principles of investing will serve you well and set you up for long-term investment success. It also helps to stay in communication with your advisor as changes take place in your life or if you just want to get some perspective on market movement.  An important role we play in our clients’ lives is being an “emotional surge protector” when unavoidable declines take place.

By |2019-10-15T12:14:48-07:00November 19th, 2018|Current Affairs, Investing|

Exponential Growth of ETFs

Patrick Eng addresses the exponential growth of ETFs.

The advent of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) took place a little more than 25 years ago with the creation of the SPDR S&P 500 Trust (SPY) in January 1993.  Yet, ETFs remained an obscure and little noticed trading vehicle for many years before it was embraced as a widely accepted investment choice by retail investors. An emphasis on passive investing and low-cost investment products in the past 10 years has driven the exponential growth of ETFs.

In the early 2000s, there was less than $100 billion in assets under management in ETF form. Today, that figure approaches $5 trillion. By comparison, the mutual fund industry now has about $19 trillion in assets, according to Investment Company Institute.

ETFs trade like stocks and are primarily passive investments that endeavor to replicate the performance of an index. In the case of the SPY, it is the S&P 500 index with 500 stocks bundled into a trust that trades on the exchange as if it was just one stock. ETFs are generally more tax-efficient than stocks, because they tend not to distribute a lot of capital gains and passive tracking of an index usually doesn’t require frequent trading.

There is plenty of room for the ETF market to continue to grow. In fact, ETFs have eclipsed the hedge fund market, which grew to $3.22 trillion globally in 2018, according to a report by Hedge Fund Research. Projections by BlackRock estimate ETF assets will grow to $12 trillion in the next five years.

As a potential investor in ETFs, knowing what resources you currently have and what resources you still need to reach a specific financial planning goal is critical. Picking the investment product that will help you reach that goal is the last step in the process – a step with which your advisor can assist.

Along with mutual funds and hedge funds, ETFs are investment vehicles that may help you get where you want to go.

By |2019-08-14T13:59:48-07:00August 27th, 2018|Investing|